Everywhere we look, we can’t seem to have enough gadgets for our little kids: iPods, iPhones, tablets, and many more. More often than not, we let them use these gadgets as a tool. Sometimes a way to make them sit still, entertainment and other means that allow us to carry on efficiently through our day. Frequently when we go to public places, we let them play with the phones, so they don’t run amok (I for one am guilty of doing this). I try really hard to limit screen time. My rule is only when we ar4e out (bad I know!) and no more than 30 minutes in the house. This applies to the occasions I am flying solo and need to do something like hop in the shower. I’ve recently been avoiding the research and articles that talk about the dangers of screen time for children. But, as a soon to be mom of two kids, I decided to take a peek and assess the potential damage I may really be causing. This may seem one-sided, but in an attempt to present the negative effects, it turns out that too much screen time has a negative impact on our child’s development in multiple ways. Here’s how it happens:
It affects thinking and learning
Medical practitioners say that a growing child should not have more than two hours of screen time in a day, or else the brain will not develop properly. This can lead to a delayed speech in children. Keep in mind that the best way for a child to talk is through actual human interaction. In that way, the child can observe other factors such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. No screen time can replace these interactions. Additionally, the toddler learns less words when screen time is greater than actual human interaction. Children may also lose their focus and decrease their attention span, their critical thinking and creative skills are affected, and their intrinsic motivation for learning is decreased.
It has a negative impact on feelings and behavior
Researchers have found that too much screen time can cause children to develop a stimulus addiction. It can also cause an increase in hyperactivity, aggression, fear, insensitivity, and the child’s appetite for violence. Similarly, this can have an effect on a child’s social behavior; the child cannot develop his ability to create social relationships with other people. With too much screen time, the child loses the opportunity to develop his empathic abilities. Also, the child can become moody, restless, and can have frequent emotional outbursts.
It impairs the physical health and well-being of the child
A child spending too much time in front of the TV or a mobile phone means that there is lack of physical activity, which can lead to a child developing obesity. Being seated for a long time as a result of spending too much time on the screen is also believed to be a contributing factor in having an increased blood pressure. Just imagine your child suffering from a disorder that is usually common in older people; like a domino effect, it will also impact his mental health, because this can then result to aggressive behaviors.
While all these can seem overwhelmingly scary, it doesn’t have to mean that all gadgets at home should be kept out of the children’s reach, or worse, thrown away. Still, these should be used in moderation. We also use gadgets for educational gadgets, provided that the kids are not exposed too much. Set a schedule as to when they are allowed to use the gadgets, and then give them time to go out and play, and to interact with other people and develop friendships with other kids of their age. Screen time is not entirely bad; too much of it is.
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